The Hollow Follow

0e689add9f898cff852ecc11d29c3139I don’t want to be the person who expects a follow-back. Of course, when I follow someone I do have this faint hope that they might check out my profile and like it. Realistically, especially when the person of interest/admiration/adoration has a few thousand followers, noticing you while they’re navigating their fame-machine is like expecting to be noticed under the cover of darkness in an invisibility suit. It marks my insignificance with a big red squiggle*. As Ms Under50Followers, I once sent a tweet to Mr 5000 in the slim hope of a retweet or reply. Nothing. In his feed I noticed he’d sent a similarly hopeful tweet to Mr 950000 and he got nothing back either. It’s all relative isn’t it? We have this daft desire to seek acknowledgement from those we respect and Twitter gives us this false sense of being able to touch their lives. Sometimes, there are golden moments when we do.

I was ecstatic when I got my first follow-back. My ‘Yay!’ dissolved quite rapidly into an ‘Oh’ when I discovered he return-followed everyone. It’s like eating chocolate with a soft-centre of disappointment. I genuinely believed with delusional naivety (and yes, all those words are required to express the extent of my foolishness) that each follow meant something. No. Welcome to Twitter. On the upside, no matter how slight the possibility, one day he might accidently read my tweet and then read this. Just in case – Hello.

Then there are the Fishers. They always follow back, they always expect a return-follow and consider yourself unfollowed if you don’t comply with these conditions. One Fisher, even though I followed them first, went to the trouble of sending me a direct thankyou message and a return-follow, only to cull 90% of their fan-base once they’d reached one thousand hits. Conversely, there are a rare bunch of Fishers who honour their decision to follow you despite no return-follow. These are often talented unsponsored people trying to promote themselves and prove they are worthy to receive more of the next type of follower – the Enthusiast.

Enthusiasts (not to be confused with Stalkers) are the followers we all want. They read your tweets, read your blog, read your books, cook your recipes, listen to your music, watch you on TV, see your film, laugh at your jokes, marvel at your satire, hear your truth and if you’re not achieving any of those things on a large scale, they believe you could. They are the Twitter-folk that one day might allow you to earn some money.

Sometimes Fishers are also Enthusiasts and many Enthusiasts take the odd fishing trip. It’s inevitable. When Unknowns attempt to be heard over the noise of several hundred million other Unknowns, Twitter becomes a numbers game. I don’t know what kind of benefits a decent follower count yields, but I wonder, is a follow-back courteous if it is meaningless? Is any follow a good one?

My husband warned me against posting my Twitter observations. He said that I risked isolating myself from my (meagre number of) Twitter followers. But will I? If all I am to someone is a follow-back then they’re not reading this. If, however, you have come to this via Twitter you are an Enthusiast. Even if I’m unfollowed, you’re that person who takes the time to discover whether or not you like me.

I can follow that.

* I hope you misread that as ‘squirrel’ like I did on my read through. I may actually prefer my insignificance to be marked with a big red squirrel.


7 thoughts on “The Hollow Follow

  1. Great post (especially the squirrel bit. I’m now thinking about the movie ‘Up’, which is never a bad thing!)

    I’ve given up obsessing over my Twitter followers after being burned one too many times by the Fisher-types. I love your chocolate-eating image in relation to the auto-follower crew; it’s a follow, but somehow so impersonal and meaningless… oh, the angst!

    The only way to handle Twitter, I feel, is to Tweet regularly about all manner of stuff – whatever takes your fancy, and give up worrying about your follower tally. I found once I gave up worrying about mine, it shot up overnight!

    P.S. I must be an Enthusiast. I followed your Tweet to this blog post! And I’m glad I made the trip. 🙂

    • You are a complete Enthusiast! Thanks for taking the trip and taking the time to comment.

      If you are allowed to have favourite parts in your own writing – the squirrel bit was my favourite part too. Funny really, as it was completely accidental! (My favourite line from ‘Up’, “I’ve been hiding under your porch because I love you” – gotta love Doug!)

      I reckon there are scholars currently writing a thesis on Twitter. What I find most interesting is some of the best people I follow have under 1000 followers. Numbers aren’t everything. 🙂

  2. I found my way here because you started to follow my blog, as meger as it is. I’m hoping it will get better. I like your take on the whole twitter thing (I’m following you there as well), I feel there is value in twitter but I am still trying to figure out how to make the best use of it. I have two accounts and using different approaches on each one, so we will see.
    The one follow that really blew me way was when, out of the blue, TheBloggess started following me, I can only guess as to why she did, but I think it had something to do with a reply I did to a RT about depression and mentioned her. It delighted me to know she was paying attention and so maybe all is not lost in the flood of streams.

    • Twitter is a strange beast. I think if I keep seeking out people who genuinely interest me then I’ll be found and followed eventually. I’ve got a LOT of patience! It was lovely to hear that The Bloggess followed you. I really admire her and it’s reassuring to know that not all tweets are lost.

      Thanks for the return-follow and leaving a comment. I found your blog via SJO’Hart and I really liked the honesty of your writing – your blog isn’t meagre at all. My favourite kind of blog is one with a soft-centre of truth.

  3. Pingback: Blogged Down | Will Wally Wonder

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